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Discarded soldiers get raw deal

BEIJING (SE): A large group of retired and disabled veterans from the People’s Liberation Army have been joining thousands of people invading Beijing in the run up to the gatherings around this year’s National People’s Congress, a traditional time to present petitions and grievances against local governments and administrators.

However, of recent years, they have increasingly been met by the police with violence and even arrested.

Army veterans told Radio Free Asia that while Beijing likes to show off its military and boast about its prowess, it also likes to forget about them when they are disabled or retired from the service.

Former soldiers and officers staged a protest outside the Central Military Commission in Beijing in mid-February in order to get the government to remember what it owes its military pensioners.

“Our demands are that they should definitely implement the payment of some of our pensions,” Cui Liyi, a former soldier from Hubei, said. “The government should be paying them, but it keeps deferring the issue and dragging its feet, and the payment never comes.”

Cui says that even though the retired soldiers did so much for their country, they are now facing old age with little income or other protection. “We want an answer as soon as possible, so we can live peacefully and enjoy our old age,” he said.

However, the lot of the former soldiers did not vary much from that of many other people who came to lodge complaints or make requests. They were beaten by the police and detained at the station.

“We are in the police station right now,” a disabled veteran, surnamed Yao, said. “Our platoon leader, Qiao, was beaten up by police.”

Another veteran, surnamed Xu, said that he too was beaten. “Disabled People’s Liberation Army veterans come to Beijing to tell them about their issues and then we get beaten up by the Beijing police,” Xu explained.

 

“There are more than 100 people here right now… our platoon leader is still lying on the street outside,” he said.

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